Add CONFLICT… always always always

If your scene is not fantastic, you’ll want to cut it. If you don’t want to cut it, you can add conflict and magically, it will improve.

Or, if there is conflict, make it greater…

Here is an example. This little woman is on a shelf. I saw her standing there, in her bowl… and I thought, “Story!” I wonder how she got there. Wonder what she wants. Maybe she’s trying to get out of the bowl. But in the end, I didn’t want to look at her for all that long… because her story, frankly is kind of boring.

What do you think?

lady in bowl

So, I added conflict.

Makes it a LOT more interesting.

lady in bowl with conflict

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Add CONFLICT… always always always

  1. Hebdomas Nigontyne

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Setup, Conflict, Reversal. As usual, Mr. Akers, you are 100% correct!

  2. Sam

    This is probably a rookie question, but have you ever been in a situation where you felt like a script (or scene) had too much conflict? As in, gratuitous conflict? I ask because I was in a playwriting class recently where the instructor liked to emphasize the value of a “ticking clock” and I wasn’t sure I bought that.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      So sorry I took so long to get back to you. This one slipped through a tiny crack.

      I’d say that, yes, you can have too much conflict… but it’d be tough to do. Basically, if the level of conflict is not believable, then tone it down. I find that my students have to be prodded to inject conflict into the scene. They think conflict means “fistfight” and it doesn’t. It means some level of argument, disagreement, conflict, etc. Not a slug fest but one person wanting something and the other person wanting something else.

      More is generally better.
      Until you don’t buy it any more.

  3. Michael Darby

    Shame on me, I’ve not visited this site for a while (poor health is my excuse) and I’ve only just now seen this. Absolutely agree about conflict. It’s crucial to drama and films and all good storytelling. Conflict can be internal (inside a character’s own head) or external (disagreement with a neighbour or a struggle against the forces of nature or with society), but in a screenplay conflict must be translated into visual terms and that means some kind of cinematic action, making use of the language and grammar of film. And if you can combine more than one kind of conflict (internal, external, societal) in the same scene or story, so much the better. Of characters in a motion picture, it can truly be said: by their deeds you shall know them.

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